It’s been a good week over here. I hope you can say the same.

This weekend, Cheri and I will be visited by a photographer for a local “lifestyle” magazine as they do a story on us and the book. I’m pretty nervous because up to this moment, I did not think we had a “lifestyle,” and if we did, I would not assume it’s very photogenic. But we are still excited. We’ll dress the little man up and pretend he always looks that formal!

This week, there were plenty of things that challenged, enriched and grabbed my attention. Here are the highlights.

In My Netflix Queue

Cheri and I have been watching House of Cards, and loving it. But you know that television has gotten pretty…well, serious. Everything seems to heavy now. So sometimes, I need to take a break and watch something like popcorn fare, and I finally tried watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. I gotta say, it’s pretty entertaining, and the opening theme song (the first I’ve heard in years that features actual lyrics) is pretty darn catchy.

In My Blog Reader

Just as interesting as Kimmy Schmidt is the first thing that I noticed this week, written by a former cult member, I’m Kimmy Schmidt, Minus the Unbreakable. Elizabeth Esther, who I’ve read for a long time, breaks down what the show gets right in its brief depictions of cults, and where it differs from reality.

Erin Lane just launched her book, Confessions of Belonging From a Church-Going Committment-Phobe and now she is launching a blog series called #OneGoodChurch. While seven million people each year become religiously unaffiliated, it should be an interesting series over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Lisa-Jo Baker talks about the art of being a good neighbor, and how to, well, uncomplicate it. Sometimes we just overthink things.

In more newsy stories, I personally raised my fist in victory at the news that LifeWay stores will stop selling all books in the dubious “heaven visitation” genre. I don’t always agree with what the company does, but I think the dead-person-coming-back-from-heaven genre is a plague and a lie, so I’m glad to see it become a little bit more difficult for the people peddling that tripe.

Marshall Segal, a writer’s name I didn’t recognize, writes about the idolatry of theology, and gives ten questions that we can ask ourselves about our own. And finally, Bonnie Gray finishes the week by discussing why we need quiet time, and really delving into the discipline of quiet, in our quiet-starved world.

That’s it from me. See you next week!

“If you were going to become OCD, what kind of OCD would you be?” I asked my wife the other day.peas-lined-up-in-a-row

I had just been watching “Obsessed” on Netflix. It’s all about people with obsessive compulsive disorder. The question seemed like a good way to know a little bit more about my wife. If she were going to lose her mind and go crazy, what kind of crazy would she be?

She thought a moment. She wasn’t sure.

I thought for a moment too and came up with the answer.

“You’d be a hoarder.”

She agreed. The truth is that Cheri is already a borderline hoarder. It is only by my constant pressure that her stuff stays in check and does not take over the house. I’m like the Dutch boy with his finger in the dam, except the dam is holding crap instead of water.

She asked me the same question and I knew right away what the answer was.

The thing is, most of us aren’t OCD, but every single human being on the planet is dealing with the same problem as anyone who happens to end up on a reality cable show.

Continue Reading…

What does it mean to be a winner?

When we were kids, the rules were simple. Beat the other team. Score more points. Run faster. Practice harder.

Then you walk by the other team and say “good game” and slap hands.

When I was a young adult, I thought the rules had stayed the same. If there were no points to score, then I had to just make people think I was a winner, that I was smarter or better or more talented. Isn’t that what the whole exercise of interviewing for a job is all about? Convincing someone that you are a winner, without actually performing?

It kind of goes hand in hand with the whole “self esteem” movement, this think like a winner thing.

It’s even in the church isn’t it?

What does it take for a church to win?

Beat everyone else. Have a bigger team. Attract more people. Have better programs and a more impressive show. Think like a winner and you will be a winner.

The problem is that eventually, we start to get this itchy feeling even though we think of ourselves as winners. We start to feel a little phony. We start to not buy our own hype. Because being a human being on planet Earth isn’t really about winner. Being a Christian is about death to self. And just because you’re winning at the game of life, it doesn’t make you a winner. 

winner

 

The rest of what Sydney Harris has to say is that a loser to consumed with the appearance of expertise.

It starts with ourselves, you know. Everyone else buys our hype. But we don’t have to. We don’t have to pretend that we have ourselves all put together. We don’t have to believe that we have made it. We can believe that we still have a lot to learn.

That lots to learn part is what makes life worth it.

Spring Break!

This week has, to be honest, flown by. With an anniversary celebration, Spring cleaning, and full days with the kiddo, the days have slipped away quickly. It was a week to be outside in the record warmth and sunshine, and then inside with the dreary gray rain.

Still, there were plenty of “unproductive” moments (kids tend to create a lot of those) when I found things that fueled, challenged and encouraged me.

On the Radio

Last Saturday, my episode of Building Relationships aired with Gary Chapman. We talked about keeping marriages together through a season of infertility or miscarriage. I’ve done quite a few radio talks, but I have to say I’m particularly proud of the hour I spent talking to this great man.

In My Blog Reader

In my blog reader, Micha Boyett talks about the discipline of choosing love and humility over being right. This has got to be one of the most neglected disciplines in our churches today. Really, if we were on a desert island, how many little groups and churches would we have come up with to keep our doctrine “pure?”

I’ve been following Addie Zierman as she traveled through Armenia with World Vision (my own trip to Uganda with World Help has made me much more interested in reading about other writers’ journeys.) This week, she kind of recapped pieces of the story and reflected on the whole event.

I have been reflecting on my adult life, which has lasted roughly twelve years or so and the kinds of advice I wish I could go back and give myself. Constantine Campbell gives five pieces of advice to young men that are spot on.

Anne Marie Miller has become a warrior for parents talking to kids about very contemporary issues. This week was the site Omegle. Of course, these conversations are very far away for me and my child, but God knows what I’ll have to talk to him about. I hope I still have the courage to do so when the time comes.

Finally, two dovetailing blogs. We can talk a long time about the sins of our society and what we need to repent of. From ReKnew, a call to repent from the sin of religion, and from Sean Palmer, a more detailed explanation of why Legalism is an illusion. Great stuff.

That’s all for me. I will see you on the other side of the weekend!

I have to give our society credit this time.imrs

Back in August, when Ferguson was first blowing up, I thought surely that this would be another thing that Americans care passionately about…for about two weeks.

We Americans are a passionate, caring bunch of people. We care enough to change our social media avatars to reflect our cause of the week. We vehemently express our opinions and send text messages to donate a few bucks when a natural disaster strikes part of the country.

But it is clear every now and then that with the steady drip of conversation, the relationship of race and authorities is still in the hearts and minds of America, as it should be. The issue of police brutality recently even found a place in Franklin Graham’s Facebook feed, which as of this writing has been shared over 80,000 times.

I have to call us out however, because most of what we have written and said has fallen into two categories. On the one hand, we have the narrative of police brutalizing minorities. And on the other, we have the argument that “most cops are good and don’t deserve this bad rap!”

It’s that second argument that I am done with.

I can’t stand to read it one more time.

If you post something like that, I just might unfollow you for a while on Facebook.

Not because it’s not true.

But because it is – most cops are probably good.

And if most cops are good, then they should embrace all of the scrutiny, all of protestations, no matter how unfair they are.

Here’s why.

Continue Reading…

Is it Spring Break yet?

Our kids are already on break, as we teachers suffer through a day of in-service (when we would much rather be playing outside.) But after today, the baby is visiting grandparents, and Cheri and I have one more week before she goes back to work. Beautiful.

This week, there were a lot of things that fueled, challenged and encouraged me. These were a few of them…

On My Bookshelf

Erin Lane’s Lessons in Belonging From a Church-Going Commitment Phobe arrived in my mailbox this week, and it pretty much immediately found a place on my bookshelf, (though I had to do some rearranging.) In some ways, Erin’s struggle is kind of the struggle of our generation – laying down roots, being committed. Or rather, maybe our struggle is finding an institution that deserves our commitment. But Erin’s journey also reveals that deep down, our needs are no different than any other generation. We need community. We need other people, no matter how imperfect, how frustrating, how challenging it is to be around them. So how do we reconcile this tension?

Erin’s memoir-esque travel-guide through church has been a very enjoyable, memorable book for me, and I think anyone who feels that tension of wanting to belong, and yet want to pull away will find a lot in these pages.

In My Blog Reader

This was a week about church, family, and belonging, apparently…

I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but Stephen Altrogge wrote this week that God Does Not Want Matt Chandler to Be Your Pastor. It is an excellent call to our culture that increasingly consumes preaching like any other product, to go belong to our various home churches and stop wishing our pastor was some superstar. Then, Lore Ferguson (whose pastor is Matt Chandler) wrote about the “Loveliest” church that so many people are searching for, comparing them to the most beautiful woman in the room that all the men are pining for, while the vast number of average women are left feeling lonely. Both of them very impactful.

I’d like to think that I’m raising a nice boy. I’m not very confrontational by nature. I get fired up at home (you should hear me), but I show up to work, and want everyone to be happy. But we all know that nice guys finish last, right? I really appreciated Kristen from We Are That Family, and her post Dear Son, It’s OK to be a Nice Guy.

Lindsey Nobles writes about not being invited, while Nadia Bolz-Weber writes about the problem of addiction and “me” based solutions.

Finally, Amy Julia Becker calls on parents to give up something that is completely ingrained in us, so taken for granted that I dare say most parents don’t even see it anymore. She calls on parents to give up the great expectations they have placed on their children, and start seeing them simply as the imago Dei.

That’s it for me. I will see you next Wednesday!